5. I like alone time.
I believe most people would describe my personality as that of an extrovert, happy to be around people and reciprocating the energy from the group. While being social does make me happy, DukeEngage has taught me that I’m more of an introvert than most people would realize. Being alone gives me time to breathe a sigh of relief, think my own thoughts, and be mindful of my experience. Living in tight quarters with three other people, working a daily 9-5 schedule and taking public transportation doesn’t provide for a lot of those opportunities. I enjoyed having headphones because listening to music and having the opportunity to immerse myself in my own thoughts was a necessary aspect of my daily routine.
4. Even relaxing takes proper planning.
I made a mistake in my preparation for Miami. I packed clothes and remembered my umbrella and all of the chargers for my devices, but forgot to bring a piece of mindfulness with me. Everyone needs an outlet for stress or anxiety, and I just so happened to leave all of mine at home. I didn’t pack my ukulele, which I use to write music and decompress. I didn’t bring my gym sneakers with the idea that going to the beach would be a frequent option for relaxation. I didn’t even try to sneak my cat through TSA to have a furry face to come home to everyday.
I made the mistake of assuming the beaches of Miami would be similar to the experiences I had in Honolulu and north Florida: convenient, quiet, and calming. Not having a car, feeling the pressure to include the rest of the cohort on an off-campus outing, and the lingering anxiety of traveling alone in an unknown city quickly dried up the only source of mental hydration I planned for.
3. Perspective Eases Frustration
Very rarely does anyone talk to someone with headphones on. It is the universal symbol for, “Please do not talk to me unless it is to tell me that something is on fire.” While this is something that I usually prefer in environments where privacy is hard to come by, hearing guest lecturer, Dr. Neira, discuss the power of perspective gave me the chance to think about this problem differently.
I noticed it one morning walking from the metro to work, a time when we often pass homeless people. A woman was yelling incoherently into the street at the general passing public when a gentleman smiled at her as he passed by.
“See? He knows what I mean!” she yelled, and then she burst into song and began waving her arms at anyone walking by.
While I can’t speak for her, I can say that it seemed to give her strength and validation to be acknowledged. This experience made me consider all of the people who would crave and long for interaction with others and suddenly left me feeling unappreciative for the everyday opportunities to speak to people on the metro, to bond with fellow members of my cohort.
2. Fishbowl Effect
Not having my headphones forced me to focus my attention on other things, and in a not necessarily positive way. I became preoccupied with my appearance, checking and rechecking my hair in the reflection of the metro window, looking down and adjusting my skirt if I caught someone glancing in that direction, or worrying if my makeup had smudged after rubbing my eye. I suddenly became a fly on the wall to any conversation happening nearby, a tiebreak vote in watercooler arguments.
People often say “unplugging” from your devices is a good way to cleanse your mentality and add some serenity to your life, but I experienced the opposite effect. For me, unplugging had the effect of bringing attention to little things that didn’t really matter.
1. Catcalling sucks.
I’ve come to accept that there is nothing in this world I could do to eradicate the city of Miami from all catcalling, nor is there anything I can do to absolutely prevent it from happening to me. However, listening to music provided an easy escape from the constant, everyday leering of passersby who are far too old to be excused from their actions.
Easily the least enjoyable part of my experience, catcalling has not become something I’ve grown accustomed to, but something that now makes my blood boil with every lingering, preying, predatory stare, with every sly grinned wave, and especially with every sickly sweet, “Good morning beautiful.” Whether it is directed at me, or any of my friends, it bothers me that a person could hold that much power over others. With a slight move or a couple of words, the men we pass everyday on our walk to work have the power to make our walk to work feel unsafe and uncomfortable. Being able to block out that situation gave me the power to have control over my space again. For those who think I may be embellishing or melodramatic, the link below will send you to a video that will give some perspective and validity to my experience. It’s a social experiment meant to provide perspective to those who don’t have experience with catcalling Hopefully by the time you do, I’ll have my hands on another pair of headphones again.